Educational resources are among the most print-heavy components of the legal industry, but a recently released practice guide from LexisNexis Legal & Professional, The Wagstaffe Group Practice Guide: Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial, is attempting to push legal learning into the modern era by including resource videos in its digital edition.
The videos in the digital edition contain explanations of concepts in the practice guide as well as supplementary notes about how to apply concepts in trial practice.
“This is an outgrowth of the YouTube Generation for lawyers. It’s a recognition that people learn how to do different things in different ways,” said James Wagstaffe, partner at Kerr & Wagstaffe and author of the practice guide videos.
Here’s a look at the digital guide and the videos:
Who the videos serve: As its title might suggest, the practice guide addresses federal civil procedure, so the resource is likely aimed at practitioners with federal civil procedure matters. The resource will be available to Lexis Advance subscribers.
At the helm: Wagstaffe, a lecturer at both UC Hastings College of Law and Stanford Law School, had the idea to include a video component in his practice guide when looking up a Latin pronunciation before a talk, something he did by seeking out a video tutorial. The videos, which he put together, are meant to explain concepts “the way I would teach it: in small bites.”
What it does: The digital edition of the practice guide contains over 150 supplementary videos embedded in its content featuring Wagstaffe offering short explanations of a given concept (they’re typically flagged with a little bearded avatar of Wagstaffe). The videos are short, usually only between two and five minutes, and typically contain a set of informational graphics that Wagstaffe can reference throughout to quickly explain a concept. The digital edition will additionally contain a “current awareness” feature, which will include new resources and updates on federal civil procedure.
What it’s trying to do: Video tutorials are becoming a bigger facet of education technology. Massive online open courses (MOOCs, for a fun acronym), available on many major platforms like Coursera Inc. and Khan Academy, typically feature video lectures coupled with lecture text. They’ve also boomed in the tech industry, where professionals are often expected to teach themselves how to do a new task or use a new tool on the job. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this video-based learning hasn’t made quite as much headway in the legal sector.
Wagstaffe explained that the video component of the digital guide is designed for attorneys, especially newer lawyers, who are looking for a quick reference for a practical matter aligned with current learning tools. “I think it’s practical scholarship,” Wagstaffe explained. “It’s a product that’s designed to match the way people actually learn when they’re getting ready to practice as a lawyer,” he also added.
Will it take? Wagstaffe admitted that while the digital edition of the practical guide is designed to capitalize on new technology for better learning, many attorneys are still attached to their hardcover tomes and physical libraries. “There’s been a historic bias among older lawyers favoring print. Not even online, they want a book,” he said, adding that some attorneys think that YouTube and other video streaming services are purely for entertainment value.
Wagstaffe said some attorneys are likely to overlook the videos in the digital edition altogether in favor of just buying the three-volume, 3,700-page tome to keep on hand in an office. In spite of legal’s tendency toward print, Wagstaffe believes the video guides could still provide some incentive to adopt new learning and resource traditions. “A product like this hopefully opens the floodgates,” he said.